Rosberg quickest in opening Singapore practice

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Nico Rosberg kicked off his Singapore Grand Prix weekend in the best possible fashion by finishing as the fastest driver in the opening practice session on Friday evening.

Rosberg has suffered a series of defeats to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the past few races, but managed to edge out the Briton by four-tenths of a second in FP1.

A fastest lap of 1:47.995 saw Rosberg top the timesheets ahead of Hamilton as the drivers got to grips with their first night-time running since the Bahrain Grand Prix back in April.

FP1 started at 6pm local time in Singapore, two hours earlier than the planned race start on Sunday, meaning that the times were not wholly representative due to the lower temperatures.

Nevertheless, Red Bull made a strong start to the weekend as Daniel Ricciardo finished third in the standings ahead of Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. The team did hit trouble with Daniil Kvyat’s car though, as an engine issue left hit stuck in the garage for much of the session and 18th in the final classification.

Valtteri Bottas finished sixth overall ahead of Max Verstappen, who enjoyed a solid first run under the lights in Singapore to end up P7. The Dutchman was joined in the top ten by Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in ninth, as the duo were split by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Pastor Maldonado displayed a good baseline pace in FP1 to finish tenth, but he was forced to end his session early due to a problem on his Lotus E23 Hybrid car. Teammate Romain Grosjean finished 14th overall.

McLaren showed signs of an improved pace in FP1 as Fernando Alonso finished on the cusp of the top ten in 11th place. Teammate Jenson Button finished three-tenths of a second further back in 15th.

American driver Alexander Rossi enjoyed his first run in an F1 car since August 2014 in FP1 ahead of his grand prix debut with Manor on Sunday. However, he brought the session to an early end when he hit the wall with four minutes remaining after losing the backend of his car.

Despite propping up the timesheets in 20th place, Rossi did finished just 0.015 seconds shy of teammate Will Stevens in the sister car. Manor will face a race against time to get his car repaired for the beginning of FP2, though.

Second practice from Singapore kicks off at 9:30am ET on Friday, and is live on NBCSN and Live Extra.